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Christmas can be a time of great harmony and togetherness, but it’s also easy for things to turn argumentative. One of the biggest sources of arguments for families, housemates, and anybody else celebrating Christmas together is which board game everyone should play. You’re all full up from a majestic Christmas dinner, and now it’s time to decide what you should do next.
Well, we’re here to save you from that decision. Here’s our list of the best board games to play at Christmas. A quick note before we start, though: you won’t see Monopoly or any other “classic” board game here, because we think your family deserves better than that. Let’s get started!
Dead of Winter
Dead of Winter might be a little lengthy for some families, but if you’re looking for something more substantial to sink your teeth into, this zombie apocalypse game will more than provide. It’s a detailed and exciting game that sees you and your fellow players working together to survive while also pursuing secret objectives. Maybe your goal is actually to backstab another player, or maybe you’re relying on everyone pulling through together. Each playthrough of Dead of Winter feels different thanks to its strategic yet unpredictable mechanics.
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game
Again, you should probably only consider A Game of Thrones: The Board Game if everyone has a good few hours to spare (and you don’t mind potentially leaving the board set up for your next play session). This is a rich, detailed, and strategic game in which players take the role of one of Game of Thrones’ houses, battling one another for supremacy and dominance in Westeros. Unlike many board games, this one doesn’t depend on randomness; instead, it rewards forward planning and clever tactics.
Here’s something a little more accessible, and short to boot. Codenames is a word game in which you assemble a grid of words. You’re assigned several of those words, and your teammate or teammates must guess which words are yours. To help them, you must give clues that link words together in a clever way, ensuring that those clues can’t be misinterpreted towards your opponent’s words instead. It’s easier than it sounds on paper, trust us.
After you’ve played Monikers, you will wonder how you ever played charades. Players each draw cards to contribute to a shared pool. Cards might have popular culture figures, concepts, or anything else written on them. In the first round of Monikers, you must describe what’s on the card to other players without using the words written on the card. The second round restricts you to using just one word, and in the third, you must act out what’s on the card.
Ticket to Ride
If you aren’t in the mood for the intense strategy of Game of Thrones or the longevity of Dead of Winter, then Ticket to Ride is the game for you. It’s possible to play this game in teams or as a single player, and the goal is to create train routes. You win points for longer routes, but building numerous short routes is also a viable strategy. Ticket to Ride isn’t directly confrontational like Monopoly can be, but it’s competitive enough to ensure that you and your family will have fun.
If you’ve got bird lovers in your party, you’ve got to try Wingspan. It’s a serene, contemplative game that is competitive, but not in a way that will make you upset if you don’t win. Your goal is to attract as many birds as you can to your nature reserve. To do so, you must put down food for them, and as you attract birds with food, you’ll gain more options both for birds and for food. It’s difficult to explain Wingspan’s core loop without experiencing it, but suffice it to say this is a mesmerising, compelling game.
Telestrations is to Pictionary what Monikers is to charades. Once you’ve played this, you’ll never want to play Pictionary again. You’re given a prompt, and you draw that prompt in your book. Then, you pass the book off to your side, where a player must guess what your prompt was. The next player will then draw what that player guessed, and so on. It’s basically a transmission chain experiment in game form, and it can yield some truly hilarious results.
In Mysterium, you are trying to work out what happened to a murder victim. It’s less dark than it sounds, though. One player takes the role of the ghost, while the others play investigators. The ghost must communicate how they were killed, as well as the location of the murder and the weapon involved. The novel part of the game is that the ghost can only communicate using picture clues, which the investigators must then interpret. It’s basically Dixit meets Cluedo.
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
t’s worth noting here that Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is a long game, and it’s also a game with a fairly drawn-out campaign. However, it’s the perfect game to start on a Christmas evening. You and your fellow players play the role of detectives who are assisting Sherlock Holmes in his endeavours. Each case presents a mystery to solve, and you’re basically competing with Holmes to solve it as quickly as you can. The books provided for cases are rich and detailed, giving the feeling of real detective work.